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Going back to Cali

The Oilers return to California - the site of their two wins in Round 2 - for Game 5 against the Anaheim Ducks

by Paul Gazzola /


No doubt.

Video: OILERS TODAY | Caggiula's First

Case closed, suitcase filled with clothes, the Oilers are going, going - back, back - to Cali, Cali for much more than just the weather.

After dropping Games 3 and 4 at Rogers Place in their Western Conference Semifinal matchup against the Anaheim Ducks, Edmonton retires back to the Honda Center for Game 5 on Friday - the site of their two victories in the deadlocked 2-2 series that has been unkind to the host squad.

There's no recipe for visiting team success thus far. None that Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan can identify, at least.

"I think the mature teams are accustomed to it," said McLellan. "It doesn't faze them at all to be on the road in front of the Orange Crush. But other than that, I don't have a theory."

The Oilers were able to snatch home ice advantage from Anaheim - in front of some welcomed California love provided by Oil Country - in Games 1 and 2 against the Ducks.

Maybe it's the laid-back nature of The Golden State, where stress reaches the back burner rather than the boiling point in Edmonton's pressurized snow globe.

"You can play a little bit more relaxed when you go out there," said Oilers defenceman Oscar Klefbom. "Maybe that's the case."

It's not that the players don't love skating in front of emotional fans at home, it's just that there's a sense of breeze in the 31st state.

"You want to play so good at home," continued Klefbom. "You have a lot of pressure from the fans, obviously, and you want to make them proud." But for some reason, neither the Ducks nor the Oilers have been able to capitalize home comfort with a victory in Round 2. "When you go down there and maybe when they (Anaheim) come up here that pressure releases a little bit."

Both the Honda Center and Rogers Place are difficult settings to play in for different reasons. 

Anaheim, led by veterans Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, have established a winning pedigree for a number of consecutive years. Since the 2014-15 season, the Ducks are 80-30-13 in the regular season at home.

For Edmonton's new-look team inside the city core's new oil drop shaped arena - which is fittingly greasing the wheels of downtown development in E-Town - the precedent is just beginning to set.

This season, the Oilers pieced together a successful home record, going 25-12-4, for the first time since the 2011-12 campaign when they went 18-17-6 at Rexall Place.

However, the fact remains: each new game in the playoffs is a new entity of its own.

"It's a road series so far but when you start looking for quirks like that, it doesn't work that way," said McLellan. "It's a separate event every night and we got to play Game 5 better than we played game 4."

Without a doubt, the previous achievements they captured at the Honda Center this season will be referenced for Game 5 on Friday.

"It's nice to draw back on the success we have had there," said Mark Letestu. "If we had two dozen games where we haven't won there, it would be more difficult but we've had success in the post-season and regular season."

It's a new series now and the Oilers can't do anything but try to return to the form they had in their best performance, which came in Game 1.

"We have a good feeling going down there," said Klefbom.

What more can I say?

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